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WAPA RECOVERED FROM OUTAGES

Aug. 2, 2002 – The off-again, on-again power outages that plagued St. Thomas and St. John on Friday morning were caused by a mechanical failure in the area known as the high yard at the Krum Bay plant.
"It's basically similar to the problems in November and January," Glen Rothgeb, acting executive director of the Water and Power Authority, said Friday evening.
Because the high yard equipment is old and it is so close to the plant, he said, the built-in safety measures cause all the units to shut down when something goes wrong.
In this case a lightning arrestor failed — a small thing, according to Rothgeb, but because of the aging equipment, enough to shut things down.
A new $50 million bond issue that WAPA plans for next year is expected to provide the money to remedy some of the problems, he said.
Earlier this week at a WAPA board meeting Rothgeb said that capital projects are needed to "improve the reliability of power."
Among the critical needs, he said, are extension of underground lines from Henry E. Rohlsen Airport to Frederiksted on St. Croix and from the Rehelio Hatchett Substation in Long Bay to the East End on St. Thomas, and construction of a substation on St. John.
"At this point," Rothgeb said Friday, "you could have a truck hit a pole and shut down the whole East End."
A minor injury to an employee was reported during the outage. The employee was taken to the hospital for treatment. He was working below where the arrestor failed. Rothgeb said, "You get a flash over…like welding sparks. A hot piece of metal hit him on the back," but Rothgeb said the employee wasn't burned. "He was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure."
Power was restored to all areas by 11:30 a.m.

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